Built of Living Stones 183-184: The Parish Building Committee

The bishops don’t footnote it, but they presume there will be a committee to assist the pastor in his oversight of a building project:

§ 183 § Depending on the organization of the parish, a building committee will be formed that will have significant responsibility for the consultation and educational components as well as for the oversight of the actual building or renovation process. In selecting this committee, the pastor will search for parishioners whose skills and knowledge will contribute to the project. Engineers, architects, artists, interior designers, contractors, and individuals with experience in construction can be of great assistance in overseeing the work to be done. As professionals who have a vested interest in the life of the parish but who are not financially or materially engaged in the process, they can assist with the development of realistic plans and can also provide an ongoing objective evaluation of the work as it progresses.

This is key. Pastors don’t presume that parishioner are going to do the work. It will more frequently be better for qualified lay professionals to assess the planning and results.

§ 184 § In addition to having professionals and people with a broad range of experience on the committee, the pastor will want to insure that the committee is representative of the parish by choosing members of various ages and viewpoints and some liaisons from key parish committees. When all views are heard in the discussion phases, better decisions are likely to be made and a greater sense of ownership will result.

A good nod to diversity, don’t you think?

All texts from Built of Living Stones are copyright © 2000, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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3 Responses to Built of Living Stones 183-184: The Parish Building Committee

  1. Liam says:

    Well, for all views to be heard in discussion phases, what is needed? That is the greater question.

    For example, a pastor who is know to prefer an echo chamber will get one. That’s true for too many pastors who say they want to hear all views (though there are some who don’t bother pretending to themselves or anyone else) in order to flatter themselves of their broad-mindedness. This is just as true for layfolks, too, especially if they are in a position to indulge themselves. How do people learn to identify their own cognitive blindspots when it comes to getting opposing views out in the open and openly and freely discussed? It’s really hard work, as a former President was wont to say. Really hard work that Church Folk tend, in my experience and according to the historical record, to be especially *bad* at.

    What’s the plan to deal with strong, emotional & principled disagreement? A shallow training in consensus decision-making can make things even worse, and cause many people to see such processes as a ruse rather than as genuine, as a way to marginalize unfavored views and view holders under polite suffocation.

  2. Jimmy Mac says:

    The kind of committee that a pastor will get will be comparable to the Parish Council and Finance Council that exists in the parish. Rubber stamps foster more rubber stamps. Thoughtful engage collaborators will replicat the same.

  3. I have passed on this blog article to our parish’s newly revived Building & Maintenance Committee. Jimmy Mac is right: in the U.S., a Catholic priest, if he is a fool, can see to it that all committees are rubber stamps. If he is wise, the priest in the U.S. also has the freedom to receive true consultation. There are fools all over the world. I prefer the system used in most countries of Western Europe, where the councils and some committees report to the bishop, not the pastor, I worked as a priest for more than 20 years in various European countries, and I much prefer not having rubber stamps.

    Friar Robert Showers OFM Conv.
    Nativity of Our Lady Catholic Church
    Darien, Georgia USA

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